I truly love this time of year when the hot, sticky summer cools off into crisp, fresh fall. I love the colors and smells of this season. I love getting to wear cosy sweaters and boots and scarves and hats. I love sipping chai lattes, and I look forward to that first taste apple crisp and pumpkin pie. There is one thing, however, that I absolutely detest about this time of year, and that is Halloween.
The focus on death, horror, fear, and mischief is not something I want to celebrate. I know other people have different convictions, and they are free to do what they like. Knowing the origins of many of the practices of Halloween prevents me from having a clear conscience in participating myself. In past years, my husband and I chose to merely ignore Halloween. Now that we have children, we cannot ignore it. We need to face it and explain to them why we don’t celebrate like others do. We explained to them that we want to honor God in our celebrations. We did choose to allow our kids to get costumes that inspire them to aspire to greatness, and we will attend the Hallelujah Carnival at my daughter’s school for an evening of family fun. It is a compromise that I don’t take lightly. The decision we came to is that rather than cursing the darkness, we want to be the Light.
There is a lot of debate and much written about this topic of whether Christians should celebrate Halloween or not, and it is really not my purpose for this post, and there is more happening in the world now that fills people with dread–ISIS and the Ebola virus to name a few. The purpose of this post is to discuss what it means to be a light. Jesus said,
“…a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:15b-16
A light serves three distinct functions. The first is to counter the darkness so people can see. At first the light can be uncomfortable and downright painful. When a person is in the dark or is asleep, suddenly turning on a light is painful for them. But when their eyes adjust and things come into focus they can see what is truly happening around them enabling them to make good decisions about what they should do next…even if it’s just getting out of bed.
The second function of light is to give warmth to those who are cold.
The third is my favorite. Later this year my family will celebrate Hanukkah. The purpose of the Hanukkah menorah is not to give off useful light whereby a person can see or to warm themselves. The light of the Hanukkah menorah is merely to be beautiful. It is to be placed in a window so all can see its beauty and remember the great miracle God performed.
Leonid Afremov is one of my favorite artists, and I included an image of one of his paintings. What strikes me is that it is a dreary, rainy night, and the couple is walking close together to keep each other warm. I can imagine they are hunched together, eyes downcast, and hurrying as fast as they can to get out of the cold and the rain, but look at the beauty revealed by the lampposts! These lampposts fulfill all three functions of light. They illuminate the path and surrounding beauty, and if the couple were to get close enough, there would be warmth, and the lampposts are in themselves beautiful. We are to be like those lampposts being beautiful and revealing the beauty around us in the midst of dreadful dreariness and offering to them comforting warmth. People may be focused on their own suffering and not even notice that there is beauty all around them. The lampposts don’t shout to them, “Hey! Look up. Look around you. Don’t you see?” The lampposts are just there being the light.